Greatest Denver Diners for traditional breakfast and lunch


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We have an embarrassment of wealth here in Mile High City when it comes to good, old-fashioned patrons. Despite losing some of the greats in our final year of the pandemic – we still miss the 20th Street Cafe fried breakfast rice – we recently counted ten of the best local fat spoons that we hope will stick around.

But those ten weren’t enough.

There are many worthy places that we couldn’t include – just for space, mind you, not because they have been classified as scientific in any way (with the exception of the science of full-bellied contentment). So we give you another round and create a top 20 – which may still not be enough.

Here are ten other subway restaurants where you can buy Denver omelets and other great diner foods:

Kathleen and Nick Andurlakis filled their dinner with memories.

Kathleen and Nick Andurlakis filled their dinner with memories.

Kathleen Andurlakis

Nick’s Cafe
777½ Simms Street, Golden
Open Monday to Saturday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nick’s is legendary for owner Nick Andurlakis’ association with Elvis Presley and the king’s favorite sandwich, but there’s a lot more to love at this Greek-American diner awash in a burning hunka-hunka love. You could come for the Fool’s Gold sandwich – that’s PB&J and bacon, the best Elvis bait, of course, that moved andurlakis from the Colorado Mine Company’s long-gone steakhouse. But you’ll return for the rest of the menu, including gyros and delicious quick order dishes galore. Fair warning: Nick’s is only available for cash. So think of the old Elvis line: bring your “money, honey, if you want to get along with me”.

Good food at Chef Zorba's.

Good food at Chef Zorba’s.

Mark Antonation

Chef Zorba
2626 East 12th Avenue
Open daily for dinner from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for take away and delivery
Chef Zorba’s has been serving the people at Congress Park loyally since 1979, and while it has been just as badly hit by the pandemic as any other restaurant on this list, the restaurant has worked admirably to stay in the service of the community. “One of the ways we’ve got dollars flowing from customers to payroll,” says owner Karen LuKanic, “is by offering free meals to local seniors as part of our Give-A-Meal program.” Happy seniors, right? If you prefer your delicious Greek-American cuisine with a solid side of homemade philanthropy (and a new walk-in window), Zorba’s is the place for you too.

Nice looking restaurant & lounge
66 Sheridan Boulevard
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Lookin ‘Good is a blessed throwback to the days when the neighborhood had lounges, restaurants, and bars for music or just fun. The family run diner started in 1978 when eggs were eggs, everything came with sauce, and we just named Yacht Rock the top 40. The Lookin ‘Good even has a name that sounds a lot like 1978. It’s the restaurant equivalent of watching an old Ronco commercial from the same year: nostalgic, happy, satisfying. Add “yummy” to this list and you have the lookin ‘good. We’ll pick you up later.

PJ’s diner
1619 Coalton Road, Superior
Open Tuesday to Friday from 6.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., on weekends from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Is Superior Really Superior? PJ’s makes a good case for the suburb as everything here has been made from scratch and from the moment your server brings you a skillet chip you can tell that you need to indulge yourself. Since everything is made to order, the kitchen sometimes runs out of options; A decadent dish called ranchers – hand-breaded chicken steak with country sauce, hash browns, and the aforementioned skillet biscuit – is quickly disappearing. Fortunately, everything else on the menu is just as amazing. PJs may not have been around long, but they deserve to be around much longer.

Ranch House Cafe
7676 East Colfax Avenue
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 8.30 p.m.
Chances are you’ve wanted to visit the Ranch House for some time. You definitely passed by on East Colfax, one of those ubiquitous classic street eateries along a busy street that looks like it’s just serving delicious food that goes against its more humble appearance. You’re right: the ranch house is well worth going to an old school restaurant (or ordering takeout) to get it right.

Sunrise sunset in the sun

Sunrise sunset in the sun

Danielle Lirette

Sunrise sunset
Three locations in Denver, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge
Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
This Lakewood original has been hurling the hash since 1984 (and seriously, try the corned beef hash because it destroys you in the most delicious way possible). Sunrise Sunset is its own small chain in the Denver area with three locations Some of the best restaurants. The trio’s slogan “Freshness is at the heart of every meal” is a philosophy that can be tried with every bite.

George’s Cafe
6504 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
The George in the name of this restaurant is George Karavasilis, who has been running the breakfast and lunch place named after him since 2004. Its impressively broad menu covers the basics of American to Greek to Mexican food with breakfast, soups and salads, as well as hearty lunches and desserts. We’re talking brown sauce on a plate, gyros and pita, burrito and rellenos. “COVID-19 has brought home that family and friends are what life is about,” says Karavasilis. “George’s Cafe is more than just our livelihood. It’s the life that comes through the door every day to say hello and joke and share history. “And definitely good food too.

The best diners have diner counters.

The best diners have diner counters.

Courtesy of the breakfast queen

The breakfast queen
3460 South Broadway, Englewood
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Breakfast Queen has delighted the residents of South Broadway for more than fifteen years, thank God, there is no end in sight. Owners George and Kosta Vasilias have moved the location just a few doors down, and they invite everyone to come in and enjoy the new space, but with the same familiar menu – especially the rellenos and eggs that a house specialty smothered in some of the best green chillies. Which says something; Fortunately, George and Kosta have what it takes to secure that.

Javier’s Diner
3801 Tennyson Street, Denver
Open all week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
When you crave Mexican dinner, your options are more than a few, including a good number of Greek joints that don’t play a role in pretty solid Mexican food either. But it’s possible you can’t do better than Javier in Berkeley on 38th and Tennyson. The family restaurant has been serving good classic Den Mex dishes for half a century. Cross-generational recipes and an outdoor patio with some of the best chilaquiles in town? This is one of the old neighborhood attractions – better known as Northside – that we hope will live on forever.

Apple Ridge Cafe
3690 Kipling Street, Wheat Ridge
Open Monday to Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A Little Story About Apple Ridge: It’s an old-school workhorse diner, just the thing when you come back from a family funeral and need some belly-filling comfort. That was the first time – definitely not the last time – that I saw the Apple Ridge Cafe, clad in my Sunday best, white button-down shirt and sports coat and so on. I had my jacket hung on the back of my chair and ordered a burger and fries. The burger was big and juicy, the kind your grandmother could cook for you. The fries were crispy. They begged for ketchup so I pledged … and found that a prankster had untied the cap as a gag. Ketchup splashed everywhere – all over my shirt, on my pants, a little on my fries, which was something. Everyone laughed, including me – what else can you do? – and the waitress came over and smiled and said, “Wow, you really like ketchup.” Then she composed the burger and helped me clean up and gave me a piece of cake to take away, laughing the whole time. A bad day turned into a day I fondly remember. And that is perhaps the best thing about the guests: the memories. Well, that and the burgers and cakes.

What’s your favorite Denver dinner that we haven’t mentioned yet? Let us know at [email protected]

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, writer, and professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the 2007 Colorado Book Award for literary fiction. In 2014 his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success was published. His new collection of Flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.

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